From the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy, It's Retro Nerd Girl with a film review for you.
Today I'll be reviewing the movie StarCrash released in 1978.
Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
$4 million estimated.
IMDb Rating is currently:
The Synopsis is:
A space outlaw is sent on a mission to find a missing ship and royal son.
When I first saw this movie, it put such a smile on my face. This is the kind of movie I just love watching, the spectacle of other worlds, the wonders of travelling through space, encountering strange new challenges and different fantasy sequences. The lower the budget, the more I want to know how they did it.
I guess you can say that I am a hardcore sci-fi lover because I don't need CGI. And to be honest, I don't always need a great story to enjoy this kind of film.
*WARNING: FROM THIS POINT FORWARD THERE MAY BE SPOILERS!*
At an hour and 32 minute is a good length but, it does linger on in a few places.
The story begins with our main character, Stella star, being chased by space police. She and her co-pilot Akton, outruns them and then while rescuing a marooned soldier they get caught. They are both sent to prison. Stella escapes from prison only to bump into the same police that put her in jail.
They were on their way to release her to get her help on a mission that no one else is able to do. The emperor of the galaxy wants her to find a missing ship and his missing son, prince Simon. Together, they are to discover the evil Count Zarth Arn's secret fortress.
The story is adventurous, and imaginative, so imaginative that the special effects and budget couldn't keep up.
It becomes a little convoluted by the end. The dialogue in particular is written as though written for a kid's TV show. A little corny, but it's OK once you know that going in.
If you are looking for a deep story here... look elsewhere. There's a fight for peace in the galaxy but there's really no context to know who Stella and her friends are fighting for. We never get to see civilians, or how normal people in the galaxy under the emperor's rule live.
How do we know that the count isn't the good guy. He seems to have many loyal followers that believe in his cause! What if he's the good guy here? It's never clear.
The similarities to Star Wars are evident in the story. Stella is a smuggler, like Han Solo. Stella has to find a prince, like Luke has to find a princess, and there is no denying that the light sword in this movie is a light saber.
Akton is obviously a Jedi. Perhaps this story takes place in the same universe, just a more primitive time. It's totally possible.
I really enjoyed the villain in this film. He's just as dumb as many other movie villains, but he's got a lot of flair and he's way over the top, just how I like my villains.
I like Stella Star. She reminds me of Barbarella, from the 1968 film Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. Sexy gorgeous brave, fun.
When you consider the fact that this film was made with an estimated 4 million and Star Wars was made with $11 million, these guys did a great job. Money plays a big factor in a science fiction film to get all of the effects and post production done right.
The filmmakers ran out of money and couldn't fly Bond Girl, and lead actress, Caroline Munro to do the voice over for her own character, Stella Star. That's a shame. She has such a great speaking voice, so I can just imagine how great it would have been to hear it.
In fact there were many bad voice overs that really cheapens the movie quality.
Studios control what movies are made, and what they look like in the end, not filmmakers. Originally Stella Star was supposed to wear her skimpy leather bikini outfit seen in the earlier in the film from beginning to end. The studio insisted that she cover up in the second half of the film because they wanted to make sure it could broadcast on network television. Besides, distorting the original idea, more of the budget had to be spent on costumes for Stella Star.
On another note, I don't know how, but they managed to get legendary composer John Barry for the score. The rumor mill has it that filmmakers didn't want him to see the film, in case he decided to quit the project. And too, that hurt the film because Although the music good, it is almost minimal and yet recycled to death and sometimes inappropriately used in my opinion. The sound in this movie is probably the biggest area that it suffers.
These actors were committed to their roles, especially Caroline Munro who did most of her own stunts, as well, so did David Hasselhoff. Unfortunately they couldn't afford more screen time for Christopher Plummer's scenes as the Emperor of the Galaxy, which were shot in a single day and it shows.
Everyone is doing their best, but most of the performance is lost Unfortunately, do to the distracting voice over in this film.
The adventure to many worlds.
The twin robots.
The space station shaped like a hand... The hand of God. The symbol of power is a fist. I thought that was cool.
Stella's costumes, the design of Elle, and amazons. Gotta love amazons. The suicide pod fighters were awesome as they just shoot into the bad guys place and attack, but have pretty much no way of getting out of the battle other than to shoot their way to victory. Good idea!
Christopher plummer was one of my favorite. He seldom does roles like this.
Some of the sets were pretty cool.
And I loved the bad guy, Count Zarth Arn!
The ending was OK. I almost felt as if the filmmakers wrote themselves in a corner and busted out with a massive floating city from out of nowhere to crash into the hand space station. Hence the title StarCrash. It was a happy ending.
The working title for the film was "The Adventures of Stella Star" and I wish that had been the actual title. It just sounds like more fun to me, not just a one off.
I wish that someone would have pitched in some money to buy Caroline Munro's plane ticket to do her own voice over.
I wish that some of the special effects were condensed so there was more money to spend on to really make the most important ones really look good.
This movie has been the secret little gem of staunch sci-fi lovers since the 1970's. For older sci-fi fans, these kinds of movies were all we had between so few big studio film releases of sci-fi movies.
Movies like this is not for everyone. It is for those who dream about off world travels and adventures on the moon, sci-fi diehards who don't care about special effects, but imagination and guts to make a dream a visual. And this movie is a mash up of cool visual of ideas.
Italian director, Luigi Cozzi mentioned somewhere that he wanted to do a Jason's and the Argonauts set in outer space movie, which he certainly did achieve. There's lots of nods to films like Jason and the Argonauts, Barbarella, 2001 space odyssey, and definitely Star Wars. He said that no one wanted to make this film until after Star Wars came out. The idea for space operas were out there, but studios were afraid to make them because there was no money in it.
The whole Star Wars - "Rip off" era was studio driven fad, but the filmmakers wanted to make these outrageous films all along. Just like how studios are making lots films about superheroes in the 2010's and beyond. It's big money. In 1978 after Star Wars proved to be successful, filmmakers were finally getting a chance to make these films.
And I for one am happy because of it. The more space operas the better in my eyes. I want to see more space operas!
That sums up my review. I hope you liked it.
This is Retro Nerd Girl signing off!
Take care movie lovers! I'm off to the next review!